Neighbor disputes are never fun, but neither is dealing with water damage. When runoff caused by your neighbor causes property damage, such as ponding yards or flooded basements, you may have a legal issue on your hands. Be careful though, you may be in deeper than you expect.

A neighbor cannot be held responsible for damages caused by natural land and rain conditions. However, if the damage is due to the neighbor’s activity, you have legal grounds and can take action. Several legal theories and rules are in place to dispute water damage cases. These include:

Reasonable Use
Your neighbor can be held liable if they altered their property, resulting in water damage to yours. If your neighbor’s modification was unreasonable and can be proven as such, the case will be judged in your favor.

Common Enemy
Stormwater runoff is treated as a common enemy for all. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to prevent water damage from occurring. The same responsibility applies to your neighbor as well. If your neighbor prevents water damage due to natural flow which results as a problem for you, you are expected to protect yourself. This is important to know so self-afflicted wounds are not sustained.

Civil Law
Opposite of the “Common Enemy” theory and similar to “Reasonable Use,” your neighbor can be held liable if they alter their property creating water damage to yours. The difference, however, is the disruption to the natural flow of the stormwater runoff.

Careless Water Damage
If your neighbor acts carelessly or unreasonable with runoff causing damage to your property, you are eligible to take action for damages or losses. Examples include leaking water hoses, busted pipes, and clogged gutters.

If your neighbor is legally responsible for water damage on your property, you may be entitled to compensation for repairs and replacements. It is also important to contact your homeowner’s insurance to see what is covered in the event of water damage.

Our engineers are experienced and trained to identify and solve issues due to stormwater damage. Contact one of our professionals to seek additional advice you may need.